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Requirements of the
Home Education Law in PA

Below is an overview of the PA Home Education Law. All parents considering home education and all veteran homeschool parents should be familiar with the actual content of the law and should read it at least once or twice a year. It is not difficult to read. Reading this web page does not constitute legal advice nor does it replace reading the law itself.

Compulsory School Age -- Compulsory attendance laws in Pennsylvania require students between the ages of 8 and 17 to attend school or follow Act 169 referenced below. The following applies to children who are 1) 8 years or older as of the first day of school for their local public school district or will turn 8 within the first two weeks of classes for that school year, or 2) begin homeschooling after attending a school (public or private) for grade one or higher regardless of age. Children who have not attended school for grades one or higher and are under the age of 8 have no reporting requirements. According to Section 1304 of the Public School Code, the below applies to those students if they are 8 as of the first day of school for their local school district or will turn 8 within the first two weeks of classes for that school year. Please note that kindergarten is not a mandatory grade level.

Home Education Law

Affidavit -- Before beginning to home educate, you must file a notarized affidavit with your local public school superintendent. It should be sent by certified mail/return receipt requested to your local public school superintendent (not a Catholic school). Although some districts tell parents to send such documentation to other school personnel, the law requires that it be sent to the superintendent, not his designee. Objectives (an educational plan consisting of at least one objective for each required subject for each child) for each child for each subject including safety education/fire prevention must be attached to the affidavit. With regard to documentation of those immunizations and health/medical services that are required by law or an exemption for medical or moral reasons, the home education law states, "the notarized affidavit shall be satisfactory evidence thereof." However, you must attest in the affidavit that your student(s) has been immunized and is receiving the health and medical services required by low or that there is a medical exemption or a strong, moral or ethical conviction similar to a religious belief for any or all of the immunizations and health and medical services. Students who require special education additionally require a letter from a certified special education teacher or licensed psychologist stating that the objectives provide for your child's particular needs. Parents may begin home educating their children at any point in the school year after filing the required paperwork, if the age of the child requires it. However, in subsequent years the affidavit must be filed on or before August 1.

The list of required health and medical services is as follows:

  • 1st year -- dental exam, TB test, and medical exam
  • 1st grade -- hearing test
  • 2nd grade -- hearing test
  • 3rd grade -- hearing test, dental exam
  • 6th grade -- medical exam, scoliosis test
  • 7th grade -- hearing test, scoliosis test, and dental exam
  • 9th grade -- TB test
  • 11th grade -- medical exam, hearing test
  • Annually -- eye exam, height and weight measurement

Log/Portfolio -- Parents must provide the students with either 180 days or 900 hours of instruction for grades K-6 or 180 days or 990 hours of instruction for grades 7-12. A portfolio must list the titles of reading materials and include samples of the student's work such as writings, worksheets, etc., if any, worksheets, etc., that demonstrate his/her academic progress.

Testing -- Each student in grades 3, 5, and 8 must take a standardized achievement test. A list of accepted tests is required to be provided by the Department of Education. Some school districts may, but are not required to, provide testing to homeschooled students. Some full-service curriculum providers may automatically send a standardized test for each child each year or upon entry into their program. Usually their tests are acceptable, but it is wise to verify that it is one of the acceptable tests within the state of PA. Our state requires that the parent NOT administer this test, but anyone else may. The test scores for students in grades 3, 5, and 8 only must be included in the portfolio submitted at the end of the school year.

Evaluation -- Some time near the end of the school year, a certified teacher, non-public school teacher, or licensed psychologist must evaluate each student's work/portfolio. This evaluator must interview the student, review the booklist and portfolio to verify that an *appropriate education has taken place, and write a letter attesting to this. The evaluation letter, booklist and portfolio must be submitted to the public school superintendent no later than June 30th. It is wise to choose your evaluator early in the school year, if at all possible.

      * Act 169 of 1988 defines "appropriate education" as follows: "'appropriate education' shall mean a program consisting of instruction in the [1] required subjects for the [2] time required in this act and in which the student demonstrates [3] sustained progress in the overall program." From Act 169-1988.

Private Tutoring Law

Private Tutoring Law -- Any parent who possesses a teaching certificate can privately tutor their children. This entails sending to the public school superintendent a copy of their teaching certificate, an Act 34 Criminal Clearance and a letter notifying the superintendent that you will be privately tutoring your own children. No yearly affidavit, portfolio or evaluation is necessary. For more information on this law contact the Department of Education at (717) 787-2967 and read the Private Tutoring Law or The Pennsylvania Home Education Handbook available from Diana Baseman, 54 Fielding Court, South Orange, NJ 07079-2321. The cost of this very thorough book complete with reproducible form samples is $14.95 + $3.05 shipping and tax.

State Contacts for Homeschool Questions

Office of School Services
Attention: Sarah Pearce
personal phone (717) 783-3750
fax (717) 783-6802
e-mail -- spearce@state.pa.us

Teacher Preparation and Certification (717) 787-2967

Special Education (717) 787-6913

PA Department of Education (PDE)
333 Market Street
Harrisburg, PA 17126-0333
Department Phone (717) 787-4860

General Information (800) 692-7254
Immunizations (717) 787-5681
School Health (717) 787-2390

If you should contact any of the above agencies with home education questions, please be sure to let us know so that we are kept abreast of their latest advice, determinations, and any problems that homeschoolers are encountering.

DISCLAIMER: Information contained on this website does not constitute legal advice and does not replace reading the actual homeschool law or consulting with the Pennsylvania Department of Education or appropriate legal counsel.

Webmaster: Timothy Kramer -- E-mail: webmaster@catholichomeschoolpa.org
© Copyright 2003 Ellen Kramer or Catholic Homeschoolers of Pennsylvania unless otherwise noted.
This page was updated on July 16, 2004.